ספרי שמע להמונים - audiobooks for the masses

Selective Hearing, Or – How and Why I Got Addicted To Audiobooks

After years of resentment, the critic discovers the wonderful world of audio books. You wouldn’t believe what happened next.

Ever since I remember myself I always had a book in my hand or in my bag or on my car’s dashboard, or at least within an arm’s reach for any emergency that might occur. However I look at it, books are an integral part of my daily routine. Even in times that I have less time for reading or whenever I suffer a reader’s block, you would still find me with a book in my hand for at least a few minutes a day, if not only to charge my batteries.

Problem is, there are times that it is impossible to read. While washing the dishes, for example, or when navigating a vehicle while any other driver on the road is doing the best they can to interrupt you. Or when you are walking from point A to point B (not entirely impossible, and the times I did the exact same thing will testify, until the moment I realized I am standing on the same spot for several minutes, drawn deep into the book I read), or any other action that require an active state of mind but prevent you from doing what really matters – reading.

In past years I used to pass these dead hours with music. I gave the notes fill the vacuum that was created when I didn’t have access to the written word. But with all my love to music, and don’t lack that kind of love, the satisfaction by listening to it is nothing compared to the one driven by reading. And yes, many times I had preferred silence over sounds when the only thing left to accompany me is my brain – a well-deserved companion you must agree – and the thoughts that follow it everywhere it goes.

But then I discovered the magical world of audiobooks.

Like any other addiction, it started with small things. A short podcast here and there between meals. A standup show during my morning run on the gym’s treadmill. A short story once a week. Suddenly, before I noticed, I found myself listening to full-length novels while shopping in the neighborhood grocery store or during long-distance rides, with the suspension eating me from the inside between listening sessions. Suddenly, monotonous everyday activities became much more attractive, when the opportunity to catch up with the protagonists of this book or the other lighten up the grayest activities. Changing the cat’s litter? My pleasure. Vacuuming? I’m on my way. Driving out of town and back just to check the mileage? Sounds a bit unnecessary, but who cares? I have at least five hours left in this book, so fill up the tank and wish me bon voyage.

In other words – I’m officially hooked.

But can you really compare reading and listening to a book? Are they two completely separate works connected by the same words? What world does the recorded book belong to? Is it a literary work or does its proper place awaits with the performing arts, alongside the visual and vocal representations of theater and poetry?

As a reader that suffer no difficulties (except for eyeglasses, but you didn’t really expect a bookworm like me to have a 20/20 vision), I can allow myself to relate to audiobooks just as they are – another way to experience a book. Between all the other artistic representations of literature, this form might be the closest to the original in the way that it activates the listener’s imagination. But I can’t see how it can replace the real thing – for me – reading.

I can’t finish this post without recommending an audiobook or two.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I have never been able to get into audiobooks, even though I LOVE listening to podcasts. I don’t know what it is, but every time I’ve tried, I can’t get into the story and quickly lose interest.

    1. I can fully understand it. It took me some time to get used to this medium, and even now, if the narrator is not perfect, I can easily lose my patience

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